What have we been doing ??
I’ll try to sum up the time from the F.E.W Conference, to last week in just one sentence. Okay? Here go’s. We met the CLIFTON’S!!!
Satisfied? No? (I didn’t think you would be.)
The relationship between us and the Clifton’s started last year in November during the F.E.W Conference when our family sat across from theirs during the Saturday lunch period, although Daddy doesn’t remember much of this time because his neck was hurting him. (As a result to it getting broken twenty some years ago.) Hence he was not one of the fortunate people to met the Clifton’s last year, though he may remember sitting behind them and having Mr. Clifton (Who we now affectionately call Uncle Tim.) comment on Hope’s big blue eyes and bigger smile.
It was our misfortune to not meet Seth last year, who didn’t attend, but I distinctly remember Uncle Tim placing a cookie under my plate for “a science experiment”, Aunt Anita sharing about Abigail Fleshman’s dying testimony, being impressed and desiring a closer relationship with sweet Esther, and laughing privately at Noah’s bright yellow shoes. (Yes, Noah I put that in for you.)
This year on the other hand though, I met Mr. and Mrs. Clifton at the front registry and Aunt Anita remembered me, and for Uncle Tim all I had to do was tell him about his cookie experiment. Then I asked where Esther was and Uncle Tim said she was socializing in the other room and that they had brought Seth with them, “the one who ran away.” (You’ll have to ask Seth for the whole amazing story!!) That was the first that we had heard of Seth, although the family had heard the e-mail Uncle Tim sent out when Seth went missing, and we all remember praying for that young man.
I found Esther talking to Jessica Neely and I want to say I probably effectively interrupted that conversation!!! (I’m sorry!!) I had to ask if my letter had gotten through to her, (because I had misplaced her address and then found it again) and she replied that she had but that it came around the same time that their family had the flood. “So you probably thought we had died, because, I thought you mentioned the flood in your letter.” I replied that I had, but I didn’t believe them to be dead, just trying to get things back together again.
We ended up sitting behind the Clifton’s again, (Just like last year!) and I remember asking my sisters if they remembered what Uncle Tim said last year during Mr. Neely’s message when he said ‘I’m going to tell all you young people something that may startle you, Your parents aren’t perfect. “ He had leaned over to Esther and Noah and told them not to listen. (That was just our first taste of how humorous Uncle Tim can be.)
We hadn’t been able to host anyone last year because we had hosted people for Derrick and Jennifer’s wedding, and the house had too much work to be done, plus we had taken apart the rec house in which we had all the bunk beds set up in, so we weren’t able to get everything together for hosting people fast enough. This year though we gave the heads up to Mr. Wilkes that we could host this year and he gave us “Uncle Sledge” and “Auntie Lulu” as our guests. He also said that “ Uncle Sledge would have the whole family in stitches the entire time.” So we were really looking forward to hosting them.
Unfortunately a couple days into preparing for them, we received a gracious e-mail from them explaining that they weren’t going to be able to make it and apologizing for any inconvenience. We were disappointed of course, but such is life.
Sitting behind the Clifton’s again this year afforded us a closer look into their lives, and also a closer relationship with them. It came about in a lot more then I have time to write about, but long story short they canceled their hotel reservations for Saturday night and Esther went home with us on Friday night. That night I shared a very personal story with her and as a result of that we stayed up very late that night. Looking back on that night and how nervous I was in sharing that story, it is a wonder to me that the Lord knitted our hearts together. Esther could have easily said she was tired and didn’t want to listen, but instead she blessed me with her open ears and soft replies. We are so blessed that God had chosen to cross our families paths!
Saturday night was our first family to family one on one and sharing our similarities in very funny and laughable ways. We all claim in jest that it was Aunt Anita’s ringtone that broke the ice, but I really think it was the Clifton’s transparity that stole the show. We could be ourselves with them, and they with us, and that’s rare even in christian circles.
Sunday we weren’t planning on going to church because we were going to be selling dogs and also because we knew the Wilkes were going to be overwhelmed with all the overflow at their house. The Clifton’s were having trouble with their brakes on the van, so Daddy sent Jordon and I to church in the Tahoe while Seth stayed behind to fix the van. We all felt bad for Seth, because we knew how badly he wanted to go, and we couldn’t help noting his face when we drove away. I do beleive he had a good spirit about it though, and we were proud of the way he acted..
Esther will remember this day as probably the first time she ever saw me cry, and it shows how very close their family had come in the last couple of hours since we had met them. (For those of you wondering, I was crying because my favorite puppy had sold while I was at church.)
Daddy got to talk to Seth during the drives to and from the auto shop and he was very impressed with him. Seth shared his story with Daddy and he told us later about it (so we heard it second hand,) but nonetheless we were impressed.
After those of us who went to church got back and the van got fixed, came the time we all were dreading, saying so long. (In our family you never say goodbye.) We took a quick picture, and then sent them on their way. It was during that sad fair-well that we realized we needed to get them back here again!!
It took some convincing but we were successful in getting them back down here for Thanksgiving. Later Uncle Tim said all Daddy had to say was “possibly hunting” and that “sealed the deal.”
The time with them was so refreshing and all of us came away with newly placed stitches, but that was okay because we were with the Clifton’s again!!
I have to place a special thanks though, right here for Aunt Anita because she brought us the most tastiest, mouth watering, chewy, chocolatey cookies that I have not been able to have since our previous pastor’s wife’s cookies. Let me say though that Aunt Anita’s beats her’s by a looooooooooooong shot!!! (She taught me her recipe guys!!!!)
Well That’s it for now ……. Part two to come soon